Today’s (Sept. 15, 2013) Houston Chronicle has an article on how NASA’s Johnson Space Center came to be located in the Houston area, a decision that had a profound effect on my life. Because the space center was in Houston, my parents moved down there after they got married, and I was born there and grew up there. I made many friends down there, people I still consider friends some 40-50 years later.
In the public consciousness, it’s Lyndon Johnson, the then-Vice President, who gets the credit for getting the space center in Texas. But the article makes the point that it was actually Congressman Albert Thomas who should receive the credit. He used his influence in the House to ensure that, in return for steering certain legislation to passage in the House, the space center would be built in Houston. If he hadn’t done that, who knows where the space center would have ended up?
Some of the other candidate sites for the space center, according to the article, were Jacksonville, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, San Diego and San Francisco. So it’s possible I could have been a Floridian, a Louisianan or a Californian, or maybe a Texan who grew up along the lower Texas coast rather than the upper. Would I have known the same people in those other locations? If they or their parents were part of NASA, including contractors, then possibly yes, I might have. But those who’d had deeper roots in the Clear Lake/League City area, no, I wouldn’t have known them. I’d have gone to different schools, had different teachers and a different educational experience. I wouldn’t have graduated as part of the silver anniversary class of Clear Creek High School.
All in all, I’m glad that things worked out the way they did and that I can call myself a Texan.